Dark Web content lives in the Darknet, which is part of the Internet that is only accessible by certain browsers or with certain configurations. The darknet is a subset of the deep web, which is deliberately hidden, and requires a particular browser – Tor – for access, explained below. The Dark Web is harder to reach than either the Surface web or Deep web, since it is accessible only via an anonymized Tor browser.
Although Tor can be used to gain access to the dark web, the majority of its users are still located on the surface web. In short, using an anonymized Tor browser (or similar anonymized web browser) is essential for getting access to the dark web, as well as helping you become more anonymous online. By using a Tor browser, Internet users are able to access the Dark Web in order to communicate and share data with confidence, without risking it being tracked to their true identities.
To access the Internet, users need a dedicated browser, the most common being Tor, an acronym of The Onion Routing Project, launched in 2002, serving millions of users. The Darknet is accessible only through specialized anonymizing browsers, such as Tor or Invisible Internet Project (I2P). The dark web is a hidden portion of the Internet that is inaccessible to people using popular browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. Darknet is a catch-all term that describes parts of the world wide web that are either closed off from public access, or hidden networks that are superimposed over the Internet.
Confusingly, darknet is also a term sometimes used to describe additional examples of networks, databases, or even websites which cannot be reached through the Internet. The general rule is that, although the phrases darknet or deepweb are usually used by tabloid newspapers to denote a dangerous, secretive world on the Internet, the internet is an inoffensive place for scientists to store data for study. The Dark Web specifically refers to websites that exist behind layers of encryption, cannot be found using conventional search engines, and cannot be visited using a conventional web browser.
The Dark Web is a decentralized network of Internet sites that attempt to keep users as anonymous as possible, routing all their communications through multiple servers and encrypting them at each step. The dark web is also designed to ensure anonymity by keeping communications secret with encryption and routing the contents through multiple servers. The shadow networks that make up the dark web include smaller, peer-to-peer networks operated by friends, and larger, more widely used networks like Tor, Freenet, I2P, and Riffle, operated by both government organizations and individuals.
Although sometimes depicted as domains frequented by criminal elements, the dark web is also used by individuals seeking privacy for completely legitimate reasons, such as sharing proprietary corporate information or communications by political activists. While most notoriously used for black-market drug sales or even child pornography, The dark web also allows for anonymous tipping, and it shields users from surveillance and censorship. While this requires specialized resources, it is simply a matter of taking steps and setting up specific systems which provides an entry point to those looking to participate in The Darknet, as well as keeping their information, like IP addresses, hidden.
The regular is part of the Internet, which is a subset of the deep web, as it is not also indexed by search engines, but the dark web takes it one step further and requires special web browsers or other software in order to access content.
Apparently, many people are using Tor Network for private access to normal parts of the Internet instead of dark web. The Tor Project says of the two million people who use Tor each day, only 1.5% are accessing hidden, or dark, websites. In general, most regular Internet users would never need to access dark-web content, even though using Tor is completely legal. Some simply choose to avoid sharing anything on the web, and use the Tor network to access regular websites outside of the dark web, or check news and forum sites inside of it.
Many users now use browser software with anonymization features to browse the Internet as well as deeper parts of the network in private. Deep Web sites also use anonymization browser software (or software like I2P, The Invisible Internet Project) to stay anonymous, meaning that you cannot know who runs them, or where they are hosted. Tor is mostly used by people browsing the open web anonymously, with a very small proportion of its traffic related to hidden services (below).
Most people are unaware that the Deep Web contains primarily benign sites, like your password-protected email account, some parts of paid subscription services such as Netflix, and sites accessible only via online forms. In fact, the Deep Web is so vast, that there is no way of knowing exactly how many pages or websites are active at any given moment. While this figure keeps changing on a minute-by-minute basis, most of the webpages online stay hidden from ordinary, everyday users. The so-called deep web does indeed encompass the dark web, but it also includes far more banal content, such as web forums requiring registration and pages dynamically created, such as your Gmail account–hardly the sort of outrageous things 60 Minutes was thinking of.
There is even a notable Dark Web search vault called Onionland — do not get confused with search engines in the Clear Web, since this is a maintained list of Dark Web sites, and not an index built by a Web crawler on the Dark Web, since there is no way that could ever happen.